We’ve been talking about the talent war for a while, and CEOs are starting to show battle scars. The supply of talent is shifting geographically and many workers are reevaluating their career plans just as demand for talent is increasing. Regardless of a company’s location or size, attracting and retaining top talent is a top priority – in some cases, it looms larger than COVID as a threat to the business.

There are also signs of an unanticipated hangover from the COVID pandemic, which is being referred to as a “resignation boom” or “turnover tsunami”. A March 2021 survey by Prudential found that 1 in 4 workers are thinking about resigning, whether it’s to seek adventure, recharge, or because they are rethinking life choices.

The mixed messages about job reports, unemployment, and recruiting challenges can be a lot to take in. One truth amid these trends is that socially responsible companies are having greater success at recruiting and retaining employees in the talent war.

There are a lot of acronyms floating around the social responsibility conversation! Here are some basic definitions.

  • ESG/Environmental, Social, Governance: ESG criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria may include a company’s energy use, waste, pollution, natural resource conservation, and treatment of animals. Social criteria look at the company’s relationships. Are the company’s social commitments reflected throughout its supply chain? Does the company contribute to its community? How are the working conditions? Governance criteria address the accounting and oversight methods and policies supporting socially responsible operations.
  • CSR/Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR is a self-regulating business model that helps a company to be socially accountable. CSR means that over the course of ordinary business, an organization operates in ways that enhance society and the environment. CSR programs can be broad, ranging from philanthropy to volunteering and everything in between.
  • DEI/Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: DEI describes programs and policies that encourage representation and participation of diverse groups of people, including people of different genders, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual orientations.

There are several reasons that Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) need to be part of your business strategy, and recruiting is quickly moving to the top of the list.

A comprehensive report by Deloitte found that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, while also achieving higher workforce satisfaction.

Studies indicate that two-thirds of millennials say they will not accept a job if the employer lacks a strong sustainability policy, and 84% say they’d show greater loyalty to a company that contributed to social and/or environmental issues. Gen Z is proving to be the most socially conscious generation, and there are strong signals that Gen Z talent will prioritize an employer’s social responsibility over their own salary.

There are a lot of interconnected parts to a successful and humming ESG or CSR program, and the right next step will depend largely on where you are on your organization’s journey. So, whether you have a seasoned ESG/CSR program or are just getting started, here are three high-level actions that you need to take to use social responsibility and sustainability as a critical element to your hiring and retention strategy:

  1. Start now

The talent war started well before most knowledge workers started telecommuting and rethinking life choices. There is legitimate urgency to progressing company environmental and social metrics and getting this information in the hands of current and prospective employees.

  1. Document and communicate achievements and commitments

Maybe your company is new to ESG and hasn’t yet established a fully matured and staffed corporate social responsibility program. That’s okay! Start by documenting the activities that you have committed to, such as community service team building, donation matching, recycling programs, and other fundamental social responsibility activities. If you are further in your evolution as a responsible business, you may already be formally reporting on social and environmental performance through platforms like the Carbon Disclosure Program or GRESB. Don’t stop there! Establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force and/or explore certifications like JUST. The important thing is to take steps, document commitments, track achievements, and publish results. It is better to humbly publish an earnest effort for social responsibility than to stay quiet on the issue if talent recruiting and retention is a priority.

  1. Build ESG into the recruiting and retention strategy and highlight company values at all key touchpoints.

For recruiting, update your employer brand by including content and details about social responsibility in boilerplate “About Us” content used in job postings. Dedicate a web page to environmental, social, and governance commitments. Ask potential employees to weigh in on the company’s social responsibility commitments. Include CSR training in the employee onboarding process. For retention, include social responsibility achievements in regular company communication. Create opportunities for people to engage in CSR goals throughout the organization. Tell your story at company all-hands meetings and update your mission and vision to address your organization’s commitment to the community.

The world we live in is changing, and in-demand employees are committed to working for organizations that reflect their values. Developing and implementing an ESG/CSR strategy for your business is already essential, so why not use this opportunity to leverage ESG and CSR to win the talent war?

And since you are here, we are hiring! Check out our Careers page and join a socially responsible leader in the fight against climate change!

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